Editorial: Don't hastily dismiss New York Olympics for 2024
New York is considering making a bid to host the Olympics.
We've been down this road before, when the city spent $35 million pitching itself as the host for the 2012 games that eventually went to London. New York finished fourth in that competition. That was not an appropriate showing for a place that likes to call itself the greatest city on Earth.
Now another campaign is brewing. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office is thinking about making a try for the 2024 Summer Games. Cuomo's people have spoken to Mayor Bill de Blasio's people and the whole thing is very preliminary, but a skeptical de Blasio already has splashed cold water on whatever optimism exists.
He might not want to be that hasty.
After all, in losing that bid for 2012, the city in many ways really won. The legacy of that "failure" is striking and not often connected to the bid for the games. It includes the extension of the No. 7 subway line, the rezoning and redevelopment of the waterfront in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, new stadiums for the Yankees and Mets, ferry service on the East River, and even the popular High Line elevated park.
In contemplating a new Olympic bid, city and state officials might want to think about a new games-driven wish list. Our big dreams, for starters, would include a rail link to LaGuardia Airport, an Olympic village for athletes built on a platform over the Sunnyside rail yards in Queens that would become a rich mix of housing after the games, and an extension of the No. 7 line all the way to the Meadowlands.
That latter item would tie in with a cost-conscious strategy of using existing facilities where possible. MetLife Stadium, home of the Giants and Jets, could host opening and closing ceremonies rather than a costly new edifice that would have little, if any, use afterward. We do not want to be another Athens, which built for the 2004 Summer Games an entire herd of white elephants that is now vacant and rusting.
We also do not want to be like Russia, which spent an obscene $51 billion on Vladimir Putin's ego boost, the Sochi Winter Olympics. A better model would be London, whose more modest $13.4-billion price tag included smart use of temporary facilities -- like the swimming venue, which featured two removable wings that added thousands of seats for the 2012 games and now are gone.
It would help if Olympic bid organizers stop thinking about New York as a host city and start considering it as a metro-area host, as happened with Super Bowl XLVIII. That would put more facilities in play and spread out traffic. The T word is always a bone of contention for Olympic naysayers, but the reality is that traffic is never as bad as doomsayers predict -- because the natives flee when the crowds come to town. Longtime residents of Los Angeles say the best two weeks of driving there were the Olympic fortnight of 1984.
As for the likelihood of winning a bid, conditions have changed since 2005, when International Olympic Committee members spanked New York and evicted it in the second round of voting. Back then, the IOC and United States Olympic Committee were warring over shares of TV and sponsorship revenue.
They since have made peace, and seemingly implicit in NBC's new contract to broadcast the games through 2032 is an understanding that an American city will be selected as host during that time. That's when NBC makes really big bucks. The IOC also is considering changes in Olympic requirements that would make the games more affordable for cities lacking access to petrodollars.
All of that augurs well for New York. Which is not to say that, after all the analysis, we should make a bid for the Olympics. But we ought not to be dismissive.
So go ahead, explore. But do so cautiously. Vet the plan carefully. Keep costs down. And dream. Dream big.
It just might be time for a new wish list.